DETROIT — Corey Crawford turned up at Little Caesars Arena after all.
After coach Jeremy Colliton said Tuesday that Crawford would not travel with the Blackhawks for their game against the Red Wings, the Hawks made a late change to their flight manifest and Crawford was on the ice for morning skate Wednesday.
It’s the first time the goalie has gone on a road trip since suffering a concussion in December. Colliton brushed it off as just another chance to get some work in with the staff and team, and there remains no clear expectation of when Crawford will play.
“When he’s cleared, then we’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Colliton said. “Until I get the go-ahead, I’m just worrying about the guys that are healthy.”
Crawford keeps saying he is healthy. The last roadblock to forcing Colliton to make a decision is completing his final return-to-play testing and being medically cleared. Crawford said Monday he isn’t even counting that as a hurdle because he has no doubt he’ll pass.
It’s a mystery why he hasn’t already undergone the examination considering he has been practicing with the team since Feb. 9. He said he hoped to do it by the end of this week, but Colliton wasn’t sure.
“I think I heard next week,” he said. “I don’t have a date on that.”
That puts Crawford, who has missed 26 games, in doubt for the game against the Avalanche on Friday. The Hawks follow with a home game against the Stars on Sunday before a West Coast trip.
Two days after giving up seven goals on 38 shots in an 8-7 win over the Senators, a team at the bottom of the NHL, the Hawks were still frustrated with their defensive effort in that game. They pulled it out thanks to a 1:40 stand at the end when they were at a 4-on-6 disadvantage, but with the Avalanche and Stars coming to the United Center this weekend, the defense must be better.
“Sometimes when you play a team like Ottawa that we think we’re better than, we don’t play tight,” defenseman Connor Murphy said. “We just kind of play risky. We’ve got to make sure we tighten things up, because when you play against better teams, you’re not going to win those games.”
The ins and outs
Winger Drake Caggiula left the game in the first period Wednesday after Jonathan Toews caught him in the eye with his stick. He did not return.
• The Hawks scratched winger Brendan Perlini after he missed the morning skate because of an illness. They were already down Brent Seabrook, who was out a second consecutive game with an abdominal strain, and they have an unfilled roster spot presumably being saved for Crawford.
• Colliton went with Cam Ward in net, making it the first time Ward has played in four straight games since the first two weeks of the season. Ward was supposed to get the night off Monday against the Senators, but Collin Delia gave up three goals in the first eight minutes and was yanked.